Saturday, April 20, 2013

My case for a more representative senior squad selection criteria.

I have suggested that maybe we can increase the numbers qualifying from National Close to the Masters to 7 or even up to 10 like in the last SEA games selection. On what factors have I based my suggestions?

It has been my argument all this while that the players can take 2 major routes during their development. One is to take the road of hard knocks by playing main lines and risk losing and not have high Fide rating until their game matures. And the other is to opt for drawish lines and then go for the higher Fide numbers.

So which is the better route? Hard to say for we are still in the debate, right? However I think it is safe to say that playing at Veterans and avoiding strong Open tournaments is very obviously not the way. Still as we can see in Bangkok Open, we now have both schools of thought playing in an Open and tough tournament.

See the results again here. Yit San and a few others have taken the road down the main lines and is not seen doing so well here. But he has been doing well in local tournaments and winning the last National Juniors. And he will probably have the better chances further down the road of his development. So what can we conclude from this? What working hypothesis can we construct?

My belief is that all our players from both schools of thought are not yet complete to do well in International competitions. Again Mas and Li Tian have drawn with lower rated players. And that is why we are not on the top tables. Wrong weaponry.

Now if we go back to our senior squad selection criteria, the rationale is that the active list is a basis for selection. But we can see that there are players there who have avoided Open tournaments in favour of playing selected tournaments to maintain high rating. So I submit that using the list as a premise for selection is somewhat flawed.

What I am arguing for is to let the players who will play in the National Close to have better representation. Let the players that I say comes from the school of hard knocks meet the players from the active list on a level field. At least 7 from NC to meet the 7 from the pre-selected list.

There are many players who are outside the pre-selected list that has a chance to bring in serious challenge despite lower Fide ratings if they are given the chance. 3 places represent a bottleneck for them. They should not be penalised by a narrow selection criteria for having taken the much harder and fighting road.

No protection. The bottom 4 from that playoff does not qualify. Brutal? Yes, perhaps. Chess is a tough game. And I think that is the best way to take us out of the rut we are in now. If we do it this way, the major lesson to our players is that they must stay sharp. They need to play in tough tournaments to stay relevant in order to remain in the senior squad. And that they will be tested yearly at our National Close to ensure they remain sharp.

That is all I am saying. We know that even one year away from tough tournaments blunts your game. How much more so when you have checked out for years and years? And then they still want to stay on the squad? That is perverse logic. And I also submit that is why certain players use all those psycho tricks to knock out our Juniors.

Once the selection criteria does not support that type of behaviour anymore, I believe Malaysian chess will now become just about chess and nothing more. But it won't happen so long as there continues to be protection for the "active list" players.

There is no such thing in the selection of the Junior squad. So how is it that comes into being at the senior level? Is it because at the senior level the Country now sponsor the players?

Let the players test out which is the better system on the table at the Masters. Let at least the top 7 of each challenge it out. Let them compete to complete each other. Then I strongly believe we will rise again from the ashes like the legendary phoenix. And Malaysian chess will be renewed once again.

This is important for us to consider deeply. Thank you for your time. It will now be up to the new MCF to set the direction towards our future.

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